Why did the Church abolish the Anti-Modernist Oath?

Pope St. Pius X required all clergy and professors to make an oath against modernist heresies and errors in 1910. This practice was abolished under Pope Paul VI in 1967, though I do not know if he was personally responsible for this. Why?

The liberals who hijacked Vatican II had set in an attitude of " acceptance " . This was the beginnig of the downfall of the Catholic Church .

If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing .

You have to forgive me here, but suggesting that the “decrepit and modernist” Catholic Church is falling and a new world order is rising up from its ashes like a glorious phoenix is, well, a little melodramatic, to say the least. Yes, there have been abuses - but, and this is really a tremendous shock - there were abuses before Vatican II! In fact, I would be hard pressed to find a time period in which there weren’t any Church-sponsored abuses!

Is it because the Church is some sort of terrible boogeyman? Well, no, of course not! Because I would also be hard pressed to find a period in which humanity lived in complete perfection and showed uncompromising love for his fellow man. Is there a correlation there? I would think so!

The Church shows a remarkable capability for maintaining itself - and keeping itself in check - despite our best efforts, which I think stems from its underlying blessed nature - and amen for that!

Okey dokey. Any [edited] care to respond?

I really don’t know the answer to your question - and it is a good one. I’ll try and find it!

P.S.: I hope I can consider myself in the [edited] category. I don’t want to confine myself to a mental institution just yet.

I think it stems from Vatican II, being Catholic, I think it our instincts to reach out to others, and the Anti Modernist Oath stood in the way of that. I dont know enough to comment much further, but IMHO I think it was a mistake to do away with that oath, but I am not prepared to question the Holy Fathers decision. He must have had his reasons!!

Well, to the OP, I would ask by what act, decree, etc., it was actually done away with. Sometimes animal-farm style changes can occur, whereas something is believed to be changed, stopped, etc., but in fact was not formally or officially done. The appearance might change, but not the substance or the substance and not the appearance.

If it was “abolished” officially/formally, then I doubt it was done to be “open” or “accepting” or anything like that. The Oath was only required of seminarians, professors and clergy in formal Catholic institutions, if I recall. It would hardly be an obstacle to dialogue with other religions or non-Catholics, it was meant only to protect orthodoxy. The Syllabus of Errors though still stands as a powerful testament against modernism, and its accuracy for “detecting” modernist errors is pretty impressive.

FYI first sentence of the Oath;
“To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries”

Entire Oath here:

Looks like something we should have kept, although every religious at V-II would have taken this oath.

For one, there was never a defined movement called “modernism,” so there was a confused idea at to what it meant for something to be “modernest.” There were writers and theologians who were branded “modernists,” yet greatly objected to the label because they saw themselves as firmly in the catholic tradition. What was “modernist” to one person was not “modernist” to another.


Excellent response. Much better and more helpful than than other [edited] on this thread.

But the oath itself wasn’t vague – it very clearly listed what the actual heresies were. Not to mention that Pope St. Pius X also made a list of modernist errors during his pontificate.

“All heretics wish to be styled Catholic.”

Let’s recall that most heresies begin as “reform” movements pushing their ideas on the Church. There are few examples of outright schisms; rather, heresy leads to schism. Protestantism began as a reform movement and, when many of its central points were refuted, did not cease but rather cleaved to the errors and then seperated from the Church formally, usually with state-backing. If the Church refered to those early schismatics as “innovators” and their heresies as “innovations” I am sure the groups in question would have protested the label. It wouldn’t change that they were still, in fact, culpable for the heresy.

Naturally nobody would want to be styled a “modernist” as the Church knows that modernism, as defined by the Church, is heretical and even dangerous. Thankfully though, we have comprehensive lists and definitions for what the modernist errors are. Equally wrong, however, would be labeling someone a modernist when the views they are espousing or discussing are not defined as or explicitly associated with modernism.

Regardless, the Oath is not necessary for protecting the Church against modernism because we do have documents like the Syllabus of Errors that have never been refuted or abandoned. If one suspects a modernist error one needs only to demonstrate it.

Modifying a paraphrase of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s comment re: pornography - “modernism may be hard to define, but we know it when we see it.”

Pope St. Pius X’s syllabus of modernist errors.

Perhaps I am just not well-read enough on the subject but I don’t think citing the vagueness of the term “modernist” is a convincing reason. Even if that were the sticking point, that one line could have been removed, and the rest of the oath kept.

On Sept 2, 2010 in my local Catholic newspaper, Father Dietzen replied to this very same question. He stated in his column the following:

Pius could not know, of course, that within 50 years most of the positions he rejected, including those above mentioned, would become accepted Catholic teaching. Particularly influential in this development was the encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, issued by Pope Pius XII in 1943, which gave an expanded and nourishing direction to Catholic study and interpretation of the bible.

In his column, Father Dietzen specifically mentions the development of doctrine as being condemned by Pope Saint Pius X but accepted today. Of course doctrine develops - this is not what Pius condemned. He condemned the evolution of dogma - the transformation of doctrine from one meaning to a completely different meaning. Development of doctrine enlightens our understanding - it doesn’t redefine it. The Blessed Trinity is one such example. We can accept the dogma of the Trinity but can appreciate a time when it was not articulated as concisely as is today.

I almost fainted after reading his column. :eek: Can anyone show me a single Catholic doctrine that was condemned by Pius X - that now is Catholic doctrine?

Here’s the oath

Of course you can’t show any Catholic Doctrine that was condemned by Pope St Pius X.

There can be confusing statements by the magisterium, which some foolish people interpret as being contradictory but that does not actually mean that they are contradictory.

In some ways it doesn’t help that some traditional circles are more faithful to the majority of church teaching than some liberals, but just as you can go overboard on one side of a ship, so can you fall over on the other side too.

Theology is more complicated than many people realise and I think that much of what gets written on various subjects should stay unwritten.

If you can’t see the solution to apparent contradictions it sometimes is best to make an act of faith in the church and leave it at that.

God Bless

Brother Paul Mary

Yes, I agree that theology can be complicated. I disagree that the church should remain silent on issues or appeal to faith. I understand that time may be involved and this is okay - as the church wants to “think things over.” We are to love God with all our hearts and our mind. Reason and faith are not opposed to one another.

Sticking to this particular issue - what is confusing or complicated about the oath? This is an example, in my opinion, where the magisterium did an excellent job of communicating truth - in a very concise manner.

God Bless and thanks for responding.

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